Your energy levels may be low during Ramadan, but should you stop exercising during this time?
Despite what you may think, it is completely healthy to work out while in a fasted state. A study on the effects of physical performance during Ramadan showed that fasting had no adverse physiological effects to the human body when performing aerobic exercise (Ramadan, 2002). In fact, scientific evidence shows that exercising in a fasted state lowers body fat (Bouhel et al., 2006) while having a positive effect on maintaining the integrity of our brain, motor neurons and muscle fibres (Hildebrant & Neufer., 2000).
However, those that are inexperienced with fasted fitness, should exercise with caution during Ramadan. Working out during a fasted state can cause symptoms such as lightheadedness, increased breathing rate, dehydration, muscle cramping and muscle fatigue. To avoid these symptoms exercise during Ramadan should be moderate in exertion. Examples of moderate exercise include:
Eating a balanced diet and taking adequate amount of liquids are necessary to help maintain a healthy exercise routine during the month. Exercise is encouraged to be done at times close to breaking the fast. An hour before breaking the fast will allow for proper post-exercise recovery to help maximize muscle repair to reduce muscle soreness. An hour after breaking the fast will allow for proper fuel consumption and hydration will help in avoiding cramps, lightheadedness and fatigue during your workout.
Ramadan J, Does Fasting during Ramadan Alter Body Composition, Blood Constituents and Physical Performance? Med Princ Pract 2002;11(suppl 2):41-46
Bouhlel, E et al. Effect of Ramadan fasting on fuel oxidation during exercise in trained male rugby players. Diabetes & Metabolism. 2006;Volume 32 , Issue 6 , 617 – 624
Hildebrandt A, Neufer D., Exercise Attenuates the Fasting-Induced Transcriptional Activation of Metabolic Genes in Skeletal Muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2000; 278: E1078-E1086